Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt has confirmed that the Cairns Shipping Development Project will now target mega cruise ships up to 300 meters in length, to take advantage of the strong growth forecast for these impressive vessels.
“I’d like to commend Ports North for focusing the project on capturing the strong growth in mid-to-large Mega Ships which means we can achieve a significantly reduced capital dredge volume (down from 4.4 million cubic meters to 1 million) and also reduce the projected cost of the project while opening the Trinity Inlet up to much larger ships,” Mr Pitt said.
“Based on the revised forecasts, the project will enable the Port of Cairns to dock around an extra 37 new Mega cruise ships a year by 2026 with this increasing to 59 on the basis of a continuation of home-porting in Cairns and the establishment of the new Brisbane cruise liner terminal.
“While there is still considerable work to be done in the EIS investigation, I’m advised that the total cost will be reduced to around $120 million.
“That’s one-third of the cost of the LNP’s original estimate of over $360 million – so not only are we allowing more ships of a greater size into our Port, we’re doing it for a third of the price and we’re doing it responsibly to avoid the risk of impact to the Great Barrier Reef.”
Ports Minister Mark Bailey said that the Palaszczuk Government recognized the economic importance of the Port of Cairns to the region, which was why special provisions were included in the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 to allow capital dredging for the project to proceed, subject to all environmental approvals being obtained.
“Consistent with our Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan commitments and provisions of our legislation, no capital dredge material will be permitted to be placed at sea,” Mr Bailey said.
“We are committed to protecting the environment while building a strong diverse economy to create more jobs for Queenslanders and the revised scope of this project seeks to deliver on both those objectives.
“The next stage of the project will be to review potential beneficial re-use options for the significantly reduced volume of dredge material required for the project, along with impacts and management options associated with land-based disposal should beneficial re-use be unviable.”
Ports North chairman Russel Beer added that the port is now completing a rigorous EIS for this revised project scope that will consider all environmental issues and impacts so that all the information is available for the regulatory agencies to assess the project.